Thursday, June 05, 2008

Diamond Joe Quimby

I feel like a heap of crap today. I've for some reason spent the entire day feeling like I'm about to blow chunks - I don't mean I've been feeling nauseous, not in the slightest, just that I've had that weird tickly feeling in the back of your throat you get when you're about to barf. It's not been fun.

Today, I was researching JFK for an article. Which was a bit of an eye opener. It's impressive, i mean, Clinton was a womaniser, but JFK was something else, a womaniser to the point where it looked like some kind of mental illness. He'd shag absolutely anything with boobs, really. I'm not whether that makes him a bad president, after all, if being a complete jerk disqualified you from office then America would have, er, theodore roosevelt? perhaps Jimmy Carter? and neither of them are exactly loveliness incarnate.

The most interesting part of these researches though, was a strange tangent which brought me to the story of Vaughn Meader. Born in Maine, Abbott Vaughn Meader trained as a soldier and musician. When he was 27, he rose to fame for his uncanny impressions of the then President, John F Kennedy. He made an album of satirical sketches of life in the Kennedy white house that sold millions, nearly 8 million copies in fact. He made appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, and just about every national TV station and newspaper wanted a piece of him. Kennedy himself used to tell jokes about him, and gave out copies of the album to friends as christmas gifts. His star was in the ascendant right up until bits of Kennedy's brain got splattered all over the seats of a Lincoln Continental.

After that, unsurprisingly, nobody wanted to hear him. All possible follow ups dropped away - people weren't even interested in hearing him exhibit any of his other comedic talents (which, by all accounts, weren't many). He spiralled into depression and drug addiction, wandered the south, getting more and more out of control, with heroin and homelessness. After a while, it seems, he managed to get himself back together and ended up returning to what he was doing before his brush with stardom - living with his wives (there were a few of them), and playing bluegrass in pubs around New England. He refused to ever imitate Kennedy again.

It's fascinating, the way that someone can rise to such high fame, and then plummet down to nothing in such a short time - it seems that it was possible even before the days of pop idol and big brother.


Today's musical links. Ian Dury and the Blockheads, the best jazz/funk comedy band ever to come out of Essex. Dig Hit me With Your Rhythm Stick or Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll. Also, on a wildly different note, this performance of Close Your Eyes by James Taylor and Carly Simon, which is probably one of the most mesmerising things on youtube. Oh, and David Bowie and Mick Ronson doing Queen Bitch live.